BY: DELLIA RISMAY
This summer, cannabis will become legalized across the country, and with that comes some uncertainty of how the drug will impact individuals, businesses, medicine, and society in general. While Canadians have had the constitutional right to use medicinal marijuana since 2000, the use and acceptance of recreational marijuana is still very much a grey area, as exemplified by the recent raids on marijuana dispensaries across the country. To work through some of the questions and challenges that are arising with recreational marijuana’s legalization, focusing on what the new legislation means for the African-Canadian community, the National Association of Cannabis Professionals (NACP) will be hosting a free educational symposium. Designed to be a crash course on cannabis “through an African-Canadian lens”, the event aims to educate attendees on everything from cannabis plant science to becoming a cannabis patient, to legalization and the black community.
According to the NACP, African-Canadians have largely been ignored and excluded when it comes to getting involved in the cannabis industry. Of course, there’s also the issue of what becomes of those in the African-Canadian community that have been convicted of a cannabis-related offense, a group that the NACP says has “disproportionately suffered” under the previous cannabis legislation. NACP president Carolyn Tinglin would like to see that change even before the new legislation is set to roll out. “Our organization is hoping there are more steps taken towards inclusion,” Tinglin says. “Reaching out and collaborating with organizations within the black community.” She also cites the lack of interaction during Black History Month from major industry players as an example of the lack of inclusivity in the industry. “This is problematic. We need to be seen, we need to be included, we need to have more active, purposeful and engaging conversation.”
With this symposium, the NACP is aiming to provide attendees with valuable information on how cannabis can be a tool of empowerment within the black community. “By virtue of the decriminalization aspect and the talk of reparations, as well as the importance of business opportunities, job creation…the cannabis industry most definitely can be a tool—not the tool—but absolutely can be a tool in uplifting individuals in the community.” The emphasis of the symposium is on breaking down the barriers that currently exist for African-Canadians who have an interest in getting involved in the cannabis industry, as there is currently a large lack of representation in positions of power. “A lot of information that has been not within our circle, in our community, will be shared. We have experts in the field, in the black community, who have ventured into the cannabis industry, and their knowledge is extremely valuable,” Tinglin says.
The symposium will take place on Saturday, March 3rd, and Sunday, March 4th from 11 am to 4 pm, at Daniels Spectrum. To attend this free event, registration must be completed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.